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FARMERS MARKET: Cool, Wet Weather Takes Toll

There’s something wrong this year, you can sense it.

Not by smell… no, the barbecue is just fine. But by the looks of it.

“It’s been challenging,” says Dennis Wimmer of Arispe.

For the markets, and for the farmers in them.

“I would usually have two tables wide and have it full of produce,” says Wimmer.

“It’s still wet,” says grower, Chaouki Younes of Story Book Farms in Story City, “you can’t do anything.”

“It’s just been hard to get into the garden and get things planted,” says Jim Shutt of Shutt Farms in St. Charles.

So quantities are down and selection is limited. 2012 was too hot and dry, this year is too cold and wet – consecutive tough years have growers wilting.

“It’s dwindling down,” says Donna Brahms of 3 Bee Farms in Griswold, “it doesn’t seem like we have as many customers, and we don’t have as many vendors, right now.”

Brahms says spring crops like radishes are still going strong, but tomatoes are at least two weeks behind.

When she sees vendors offering them for sale, a red flag goes up.

“It tells me that the producer is probably not producing it himself, that he’s purchasing it somewhere.”

Some farmers have had to use greenhouse crops or buy at auction to make ends meet, while others have just taken the hit.

“It slows the cash flow down,” Wimmer says. “We’re kind of behind where we wanted to be at this time of the year.”

Dry weather and moderate heat could still spark a rally and many growers are hoping for an extended harvest.

“It’ll be a good fall,” Younes says, “but so far, not a good summer for vegetables.”

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